By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
According to a recent report submitted to the Town of Coaldale council from Coaldale and District Emergency Services (CES), medical assist calls are up.
And, it’s an alarming statistic, Fire Chief Andy Van Rijn noted at a council meeting held last month.
The following is a five-year breakdown of county and town medical assist calls. In 2010, there were a total of 233 call outs and 86 were medical assists. In 2011, there were 264 call outs and 88 were medical assists. In 2012, there were 306 call outs and 127 were medical assists. In 2013, there were 302 call outs and 145 were medical assists. In 2014, there were 342 call outs and 212 were medical assists.
“They’ve gone up significantly to 2014 — it was 62 per cent of our call volume. That’s quite a chunk of our calls. Last month, we did 17 calls in town and 15 of those were medical assist calls,” said Van Rijn, during his presentation to council.
Van Rijn said it does affect the cost of operations with the county and the emergency services contract.
“It’s really starting to sway that. It’s pulling us around in a complete circle. Where the county was paying 70 per cent of our call volume to now where the town is almost to that point now,” he said.
The medical assists are on behalf of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and CES doesn’t get reimbursed for the calls. “The games they play — they try to look really efficient by shuffling ambulances all over and it’s not working,” noted Van Rijn, adding there have been recent articles written about the issue throughout the province.
Also, a number of communities have brought up concerns in regards to this issue with the province.
Currently, ambulances come from various locations throughout the area. “To wait a half an hour for an ambulance is not the way it’s supposed to be. Their response time has gone through the roof,” said Van Rijn.
Council passed the motion to send a letter of support to the government in regards to the rising medical assist calls.